Shopping at Paso Canoas

Paso Canoas is the town on the border between Panama and Costa Rica on the PanAmerican highway. I’d been there a number of times to cross the border but hadn’t spent much time exploring the shops there. Many people go there to shop because of the lower prices and good deals.

I’m from the US where you go to the mall and walk down the spacious corridors. If you can’t find something you look for the map – Penny’s is down that hall, the shoe store is up there on the upper level. The bathrooms are by the food court and there are benches in attractive areas if you want to rest.

Now, picture the exact opposite of that and you might be imagining something like Paso Canoas. I would have to visit a number of times more to even begin to make sense of it! There are some larger stores, and tons of little shops in every possible space. If you walk out the back door of some you are in Panama, but the front door is in Costa Rica. There are passageways behind stores crammed with little shops, sometimes with music blaring, and watch your step because there are steps and uneven floors.

I took some photos, though they don’t begin to convey the experience of Paso Canoas

This is only a tiny taste of Paso Canoas. I would have to spend quite a bit more time there to make any sense of it. I wasn’t sure where I was some of the time, and I’m glad I wasn’t there to buy something I really needed to find. I did find a set of sheets for our spare bed though, full size. I passed over the $6 sets for something I liked a bit better for $8.

If you want an interesting experience, go wander around Paso Canoas.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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12 Responses to Shopping at Paso Canoas

  1. Robert & Helen says:

    One can find bargains there. If you are a Panamanian citizen or you have a E-cedula you have duty free allowance of $ 2,000.–.

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  2. Kris,

    It looks very interesting. Loved the pictures. It would make an interesting trip. Now if I could convince my friend who lives on the Costa Rica side , not too far from the border, to meet me there, that would be fun.

    Nick

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  3. Same can be said of Central Ave in Panama City. Check out my review on Trip Advisor: Same Thing, Over and Over!

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    • I’ve never been there. I’ll have to check it out sometime.

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    • jim and nena says:

      Avenida Central’s main attraction for me was the Taboga clothing store, that’s where Nena was working when I met her.
      The street was open to traffic then and was always bumper to bumper as a main thoroughfare. The area below Plaza 5 de Mayo was closed to traffic and it became a market center. It has every kind of shop one can imagine but be careful of straying to far from the avenue into the side streets. There are great bargains, as with everywhere in Panama, there are no fixed prices. We took my sister there on her first visit a few years ago as it is a great place to get photographs of a cross section of Panama’s shoppers.
      From Plaza 5 de Mayo to Casco Viejo is only about 2/3rds of a mile so it is an easy stroll to take in the history and attractions there. Personal opinion: they ruined the view from Casco Viejo when they built the Cinta Costera in the bay around it.

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  4. susie says:

    so does that mean you don’t have to leave Panama but can get into Costa Rica thru the “back door” of some stores???

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    • It’s a very strange border. You can walk from Panama into Costa Rica and not even realize it. The Panamanian immigration building with all the people waiting, we just walked right through or around it. The Costa Rica office is ahead farther than you can see from the Panamanian office. The whole area around and between is teaming with people, cars, trucks, taxis, and shops. I’m sure that is why there is a check point down the road to be sure people are actually legal when they leave the border. The whole border crossing thing is so confusing there are guys who make their money by guiding people to the right locations and assisting with the process.

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  5. ME BE in Panama says:

    The craziness of it was entertaining and the experience was so much fun! Is there a costal town nearby for a fun fish market experience. I wonder how early we’d have to go to see the loaded fish boats returning to dock to sell their catch?

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    • Yes I know a good fish market south of the airport in Pedregal. We can go! Fish is $2.50/lb or less, and for a tip they will clean it and prepare it to your specifications. They have also opened a little restaurant next door that we could try. I think our next adventure is taking shape 🙂

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